Data Protection – Accountants and BookKeepers – Are You Playing Safe?

It’s essential for the success of your own business that you set out clear assurances and obligations to your clients – both old as well as new – that their data is fully protected.

As a accountant or bookkeeper, your client holds you in a position of trust. Not only do you have access to a host of confidential information regarding their business performance and business finances, but if you are managing payroll services too, you will have in-depth knowledge of their employees’ personal information.

You have a duty of care to your client to maintain high levels of confidentiality and security – and can be fined heavily for breaches of security surrounding personal data which lead to individuals suffering loss or fraud. It’s not just worth the risk when there’s so much at stake.

So, what can you do for ensuring that your user’s information is secure – and how should you advise clients to secure information at their end of the business transaction?

Keep hard copy paperwork away from prying eyes

Using online accounting software is one major step towards client data security, but unless you secure hard copy data, you’re leaving yourself open to risk. With today’s modern technology, you don’t need to print out a copy of every invoice or ledger – and statutory accounting firms and HMRC are generally happy to use securely held digital information to produce year end returns and conduct audits. So, keep your printouts to a minimum – and ensure that the paperwork you do produce is kept in a locked cabinet.

Reduce your risk by minimizing access to client information

If you work in a team, make sure that only those of your colleagues or employees who genuinely need to have access to your clients’ data have access to your online accounting software and other secure areas.

Each user can be assigned different levels of access which ensures they only see the data they need to see to complete their job.

Make sure your internal security systems are up to scratch by routinely changing passwords regularly – and always change all password security when a individual leaves your company or you feel they may be a potential risk to your systems, no matter how small.

All of the above measures can help your clients keep their data secure, too – for no matter how strict your own security measures are, if your customers aren’t adhering to the same levels of data security, there is still the element of risk. Think smart, use your online accounting software wisely and keep that confidential information safely away from fraudsters and unscrupulous competitors.